The doctor was very thorough and he assured her that there was no doubt that she was carrying her first child. Although Molly had believed she was prepared for that possibility, she was devastated when her biggest fear was confirmed. Jez phoned her from his workshop to ask the result and she gave it in a deadened voice, staring at her reflection in the hall mirror while she tried and failed to imagine her slender body swollen with pregnancy.
A baby, a real living, breathing, crying baby, would be looking to her for total support in less than nine months’ time. A termination wasn’t an option for her. Her own mother had given her the chance of life in equally unpromising circumstances and Cathy had done her best, even if her best hadn’t been that great. Could she herself do any less for her own child? She dug out Leandro’s business card and decided to send him a text message, because she really couldn’t face speaking to him just at that moment and when they had parted on such bad terms.
‘I need to see you URGENTLY.’
In the conference room of the Carrera bank where he was involved in a meeting, Leandro read the message and appreciated the appeal of the block capitals. He was convinced that she had discovered that she was not pregnant and now wanted to tell him that she was sorry for making such a fuss. He walked into his office to phone her.
‘Join me for dinner tonight,’ he suggested. ‘I’ll send a car to pick you up at eight.’
Molly winced at the prospect of breaking her news over a dining table and then scolded herself for caring about such a triviality. He was as much to blame as she was for the development, so why was she getting all worked up at the prospect of telling him?
When Jez came home from work, he joined her in the kitchen. ‘How do you feel?’ he enquired awkwardly.
‘Like I want to kick myself for being so stupid,’ she told him truthfully.
‘Have you told him yet?’
‘I’m telling Leandro tonight-not that I expect that will make much difference to my plans-’
‘You already have plans?’ Jez queried.
‘Just getting on with life as best I can,’ Molly muttered dully.
Jez reached for her hand where it was clenched on the edge of the sink. ‘But you don’t have to do it alone…’
Molly looked up him uncertainly. ‘What do you mean?’
Jez breathed in slow and deep. ‘I’ve thought hard about this since we had our conversation, so take a minute and think about it before you say no. I’m willing to marry you and bring up the kid as my own-’
Molly was astonished by that suggestion. ‘Jez, for goodness sake, I wouldn’t let you sacrifice yourself like that-’
‘I want to help, Molly. Together we could make a good team,’ the blond man reasoned earnestly. ‘I’m not expecting you to love me but, in time, I’m sure we’d become closer.’
Tears were clogging Molly’s throat and she was too choked up to speak. His generosity was almost too much for her to bear. She grasped both his hands in hers and squeezed them to express her feelings. But for the first time she didn’t feel she could say anything she liked to Jez because she now knew that he thought of her as more than a friend and cherished hopes that she could not fulfil. She loved and trusted him, but she wasn’t attracted to him and felt that anything other than platonic friendship would be doomed by that fact.
‘You’re too kind for your own good,’ she told him chokily and she went off to get dressed, feeling more than ever as though her security was breaking up beneath her feet. How could she possibly remain living in Jez’s home now? It wouldn’t be fair to him if she stayed on. He was too involved in her life and it wasn’t healthy. He was less likely to make the effort to meet someone else while she was still around, she acknowledged unhappily.
Dead on the hour of eight, a uniformed chauffeur rang the bell to tell her that the limousine was waiting for her…
LEANDRO watched Molly cross the restaurant. Male heads turned and followed her progress. Her dress was unremarkable, fitted enough to hug her rounded breasts and just short enough to reveal shapely knees and accentuate the high heels she favoured to combat her diminutive height. But the men didn’t stop looking and neither did he. Maybe it was that eye-catching waterfall of jet-black curls, the enormous emerald green eyes and that full quivering pink mouth that he only had to look at to get hard and ready. A woman hadn’t affected him that way since the teenage years when fantasy had driven his hormones and that simple fact still annoyed the hell out of him.
‘This is a really fashionable place,’ Molly remarked unevenly, striving not to stare at him and allow his magnetic attraction to influence her. But he looked drop dead gorgeous in a light grey suit and sky blue silk tie and her heartbeat quickened to a trot and her pulses quickened even before she sat down at the quiet corner table.